“I recognise abusive behaviours for what they are and it has helped put things in perspective so hopefully I will make better choices in the future”.
“Shown me how to recognise abuse and educated me on it”.
“Mind blowing – in a good way. Finally someone understands!”.
“I would like to Thank the Freedom Programme and Sharon. You have given us a place where we can find our voices and heal. You are our first step on this journey to a new beginning, the Freedom programme helps in creating a road map to a new life.. Thank you Sharon, thank you for being an inspiration and giving us hope”.
“Sharon was so helpful, supportive, she helped all the ladies to feel comfortable with sharing and expressing themselves. She ushered a very positive healthy atmosphere for us all”.
“The programme has helped me on how I see myself, it has given me back my voice and confidence. I feel stronger than when I first started”.
“Having the group discussions and being able to talk with Sharon really gave perspective. The videos help me to understand the kind of life I want. To be able to recognize what I need to look for and what a healthy relationship should look and feel like”.
“Made me notice alot that I didn’t during the relationship, also you see alot you didn’t realise before as abusive. Good to have someone to talk to who has been through a similar situation”.
“I found The Freedom Programme very helpful because it reassured me that im not alone. It examined the roles payed by abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors. Domestic violence can affect children even from in the utero and i overall have a better understanding of what has happened to me and that i am not to blame for the abuse i’ve been through”.
“Sharon was friendly, kind, encouraging and very supportive. I think she did a great job at helping those who were less confident feel able to talk about their experiences and keep the theme of the sessions going while still allowing for freedom of discussion”.
“I am so glad to have done this course. I feel it’s taught me a huge amount – not just the course content itself but also meeting the other fantastic women who were my coursemates. I will always be grateful to the Freedom Programme for being there to support people like me and help us work through some terrible experiences. I know I’m still not completely recovered but I feel like I’ve made massive progress and taken some of the most important first steps to getting back to myself, which is something I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do before joining the course”.
“Sharon is wonderful – She is so supportive and approachable – she makes the sessions welcoming and comfortable for all the participants. Her approach is calm and patient, offering support and clarification if you had further questions”.
“Having the weekly meetings and course structure as helped me to keep positive on my decision to end the relationship. The support of Sharon have been so much more than I had expected. Plus hearing others stories helped to get some clarity on what was abusive and that those behaviours were not those of a healthy relationship”.
“All the sessions were a positive learning experience, and I have learnt a lot about all the sessions in detail. It has changed my life and my relationship, and my household is much better”.
“I have learnt a lot about myself and the abuse I have been through. I have learnt to understand and recognise signs of domestic abuse and how to prevent it”.
“I learnt to recognise the warning signs and tactics of an abuser. Also a very important aspect for me was to stop blaming myself for getting involved in an abusive relationship.”
“It was a massive transformation. It helped me to turn my ways of thinking. The negative things my husband made me believe about myself have turned to positive things. The Freedom Programme has given me confidence. I am stronger and happier.”
“The hand books were very good at breaking down the reality of domestic abuse”.
“I constantly have in mind all of the ‘trigger’ traits of an abuser/controlling man. I feel that having completed the Freedom Programme, my knowledge of domestic abuse will remain with me forever”.
“The Freedom Programme is a fantastic programme to be on. The co-ordinator of the sessions, Sharon Bryan, has been brilliant in supporting us women on the group and always had our sessions planned so we could make the most of our time. All of the women on the group were very open and honest about their own experiences which made me feel not alone in my situation. I would recommend other women who experience domestic abuse attend this group. Thank you Sharon Bryan”.
“I loved the programme. It helped me to see things clearer. I am able to identify abusive behaviour and I don’t think the chances are very high that I will end up in another relationship with an abusive man. Overall, the impact has been very positive and I would recommend it to all women!”.
“Freedom Programme made me understand that Domestic Abuse is not just physical but mentally and emotionally. It can affect you physically, mentally and ruin your self confidence”
“All of the sessions were really helpful for my future and my children’s.”
“The Freedom Programme helped me a lot to change and improve myself.”
“I did really enjoy being part of the group. I just wish it was for longer.”
“There are no words for how domestic violence changes a woman’s life. I am so grateful to the facilitator of this programme as I was given the support and closure I needed to move forward during a time which I needed it most. It was the best thing to come out of this.”
“The Freedom Programme completely transformed me – I now have a greater understanding of domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and those I share with him!. I feel very confident in identifying abusive behaviour and understanding the underlying beliefs of abusive men.!
“The facilitators were the best facilitators imaginable. I was shocked at how long they have been working with victims of domestic violence as they aren’t desensitised at all – they treat every woman with equal empathy as if it was the first time they had heard her story, despite how prevalent DV is.”
“I left each session eagerly waiting for the next one. I felt each session was crucial in showing the different faces of the abuser, how he could go from King of the Castle, to The Persuader, and helping me identify the different forms of abusive behaviour and the cycle of abuse.”
“I thought the programme was presented in a sensitive, yet humorous manner. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I am so grateful that my son has also benefitted as I now know what a healthy relationship is and will not make the same mistakes.”
“I felt each session of the programme was critical in helping us to identify the patterns of abusive behaviour and the underlying beliefs of the abuser. I now recognise how consistent his abuse was.”
“I hope other local authorities begin providing this programme so other women may have the opportunity to attend. This programme has left a resounding impact on my life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend. I have no words to thank you enough.”
“It has made me so much more aware of abusive traits of the perpetrator. There were things I did not realise were forms of abuse, but, I do now!. It has really opened my eyes.”
“A really lovely, non judgemental group. The facilitators are really amazing. They give examples, help us feel comfortable and the group sessions are always really interactive and informative.”
“Thank you for the work you do Sharon. I have difficulty putting this experience into words, but it was the best thing to ever happen in a long time. I will never forget the memories I made, the women I met, and the strength that came from having this amazing support group. I don’t think I would have been able to cope without it. thank you!.”
“I now feel I am not alone going through this. I know the difference between a good and bad relationship. I know the next relationship I have will be my choice and I will be respected by my partner.”
“Thank you. I’ll miss going to the programme. After the sessions, I felt like a strong woman leaving the building, and more confident in who I am.”
“It gave me confidence and strength. I am not afraid anymore.”
“It helped me understand what I was going through and equipped me for the future. Meeting other women was very helpful and I felt supported. I am now fearless and strong!”.
“I just want to say thank you for everything. I really appreciate it. You have been an amazing teacher/facilitator for the group. You made me feel really comfortable, been empathetic, non judgemental, gave great advice and shared experiences. I have learnt so much and will take it with me for the rest of my life.”
“It offered me a space where I could learn more about domestic violence whilst supported by other women and knowing my child was receiving safe child care in the creche.”
“By identifying traits of an abusive man, it helped me confirm and realise that behaviours shown by my child’s father were indeed abusive – in the past I may have excused some of them!”.
“I think maybe an extra session could be added to the programme at the end on ‘well being’, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, that many women experience. What can we do? What do other women do to look after themselves?. Having said that, all sessions were useful as they zoned in on different types of abuse.”
“I feel I have to say that although I really enjoyed the programme, some of the videos present a picture of perfect vision of happiness following leaving an abusive man. Life is not always rosy afterwards”.
“I don’t think that without the freedom programme I would be where I am now. The programme has changed mine and my children’s lives. It has opened my mind up to the ‘spell’ I was under!. It’s made me see what has to change and the effects DV has had on my children. It has given me the strength to stay away and given me the awareness to never go into another abusive relationship. It has made me feel empowered to be me without a man. The freedom programme has changed my life for the better. I think every woman who has or are going through domestic violence should do the programme to get awareness. Sharon has also helped me change my life. I can relate to her very well and am happy I have had the chance to work with her.”
“It’s a great way to understand that I am not alone and abuse is a real thing. I didn’t just imagine it! I felt I was nt alone anymore”.
“This programme is so useful for women who experience domestic violence. It’s like having a free space for myself. I feel I can talk freely and be more open. This programme is so therapeutic. The option to have childcare is such a relief for mothers like myself. So ‘thank you’ for helping women like myself”.
“I learnt a lot about domestic violence, that I never knew before. I now know about power and control and what I can do to get support if I need it”.
“I would like professionals like social workers to attend the programme as well so that they understand how difficult it is for women to leave abusive relationships. Perhaps then, we wouldn’t be judged as we are now”.
“I feel more confident that the abuse wasn’t my fault”.
“I feel I now know what to look out for. The warning signs as such”.
“It gave me the knowledge about different types of domestic abuse I wasn’t aware of and taught me the effects it can have on a woman’s life and children’s lives and development”.
“Until starting the FP I didn’t realise how much abuse my ex-partner put me through or how much I wasn’t aware of the effects had on my kids”.
“Enabling me to understand my current situation better”.
“This has taught me that the behaviour I had witnessed from past relationships was not OK and has taught me I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness”.
“Overall the impact I would generally say was life changing. It has completely opened my mind and I am able to look at what happened to me differently. What I mean by differently is being able to understand how he controlled me and how he persuaded me, lied to me to mould me into something he wanted”.
“The Freedom Programme has made me feel empowered and ready to move on with my life. I now recognise behaviour as abusive that I didn’t even see before. I no longer blame myself for my partner’s behaviour, and I will be vigilant in remaining not in contact with him. Moving forwards, I believe I will better recognise early signs of abusive behaviour and leave. Even if I do end up in a similar situation, I also know who to contact and ask for help from for the best possible response”.
“Realising that I am not going mad and he knew what he was doing”.
“To give a little background, I had left my abuser only a month before I started The Freedom Programme. Fleeing from an abusive relationship left me with so many feelings and I was overwhelmed. The Freedom Programme has helped me to deal with many of these feelings in a positive way. For example, understanding how abusers behave and think and where these beliefs come from has given me an overall insight into domestic abuse which I was lacking, and my intense confusion about my situation i.e. how I got into it, how it persisted for so long and why I couldn’t leave the situation for the longest time, has been resolved to a great extent. Speaking with others about abusive experiences has made me feel less alone and isolated and that I have a supportive, understanding community. My fears of being abused again in the future and making similar mistakes have been somewhat alleviated by starting to work toward knowledge and understanding to spot warning signs earlier on in a relationship, which the Freedom Programme teaches. While doing The Freedom Programme, I have been made more aware of the need to develop assertiveness, confidence and self-belief – and have been making steps towards implementing these traits in my life. The Freedom Programme provides a safe place to discuss abuse experiences and concerns of the utmost personal and sensitive nature – this is so valuable for people like me who leave abusers and I’ve been at my most vulnerable recently”.
“Provided a safe and supportive space to talk about and explore different types of domestic abuse. How we are affected and what to be aware of in the future. It has made me realise how many women truly are affected by domestic abuse, from all walks of life, and just how much this affects not only them, but their family, children etc for a long time after they have even left the relationship. This makes me incredibly angry at how abuse of women and girls is so normalised in society and definitely inspires me to want to get involved and raise awareness and provide support for young women and girls and try to open these conversations up from a much younger age which could hopefully equip them with the tools to notice abusive relationships before they enter them and without having to go through one to learn this!”.
“I am not and was not in a typical DV relationship, but the programme has highlighted what I should look out for if I can ever bear to date anyone again!”
“I feel like learning about his behaviour has taken the power away from him”.
“Its extremely educational and at no point judges or puts blame on us for what we went through and how we reacted to abuse. Being able to talk so candidly in a group full of other women from all different ages and backgrounds about domestic violence was liberating. I knew no matter what stories I told I would receive the upmost support, and I never felt bad for asking questions or voicing my opinion”.”.
“Before I started The Freedom Programme I believed it was my fault and believed a lot of what went on was normal, but doing the freedom programme managed to completely change my mind. Doing the programme helped me realise how my ex-partner manipulated me and how he mentally and physically abused me to his satisfaction”.
“It has provided me with a community of women who have been a support and who have listened to me and shared experiences that made me feel not alone”.
“I have learnt about how to be more aware and look for the signs before entering into another relationship in the future”.
“When the legal system and the social services let us down after we left in tiny little broken pieces after years of abuse. I found this programme as the light at the end of the tunnel and that there is some one protecting us and guiding us to walk free and knowing there is always hope makes me feel stronger and safe. Someone who believes us and someone we can trust”.
“I feel all women would benefit from The Freedom Programme”.
“The Freedom Programme has had a very positive impact on my life. It has been greatly helpful and provided support and knowledge at a very difficult, painful and confusing time in my life. Not only has it equipped me with a basis of knowledge so that I can hopefully live an abuse free future, having such a good experience with The Freedom Programme has made me more confident to speak out and seek help when I need it, in the form of therapy, support groups and more programmes. This course is really comprehensive and insightful guide to domestic abuse. I don’t believe that there are many other courses like it, that follow the traits and aspects of the ‘Dominator’ in such an organised and structured way”.
“The facilitator was amazing and I felt so connected with her throughout the course”.
“Sharon has created a very safe, supported and comfortable environment for everybody to share their experiences to guide us all through the course”.
“I think the programme has been run brilliantly and think this should be provided on a much larger scale to raise awareness of domestic abuse, especially for professionals, social workers, even judges and lawyers etc, that deal with domestic abuse on a daily basis yet seem to have no understanding of the nature and impact of it on the victim and children”.
“It has been a pleasure and I am extremely grateful to be part of Sharon’s programme. She has been amazing and supportive, her experience, knowledge, faith and courage are an example to me”.
“Lots of stories to be heard and information to move on with our lives, sometimes we are left without resources, knowledge, support but having this type of programme is very good for all of us especially after we have our freedom”.
“I feel a bit sad the programme has ended and would love to be part of a refresher programme to get together from time to time. I believe it would be nice and helpful to keep going and help us to get stronger. This programme is very good, maybe a bit longer would be better. I got used to this programme as it has been extremely powerful and positive for me”.
“Sharon was great and she was very friendly which gave me the confidence to talk to her easily and the way she did the programme helped me to understand about domestic violence and gain more confidence in being able to identify the signs before entering into another serious relationship”.
“I would recommend Sharon to anyone who has been through domestic violence as she empowers women in this situation for a better future for themselves and their children. I thank Sharon so much and will maybe do more about domestic violence with her depending on what she has to offer”.
“Honestly, I am so grateful for the kindness and lessons I have been taught. I feel so valued”.
“Sharon was more than helpful, understanding and supportive. She has truly left a positive impact on me and I believe everyone aswell”.
“The Freedom Programme has completely changed how I see myself and my abusive relationships in the past. I went into the programme still heavily blaming myself for what had happened, but I am now more at peace. Ending the programme feels like the final step of closure I had to cultivate for myself”.
“I’d like the programme to have been longer but only because I got so much out of it”
“I was initially unsure about how this course would be and whether or not I would feel able to participate. From my very first session I felt engaged, included and able to express myself which eradicated any uncertainty”.
“I came into this without any expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience and the group of people I have met. I am now part of a group that I think I will stay in touch with and that I have connected to on a completely different level than you normally would, with people you don’t know that well. I can’t think of anything I would change. The only thing I sometimes struggled with was my baby’s bedtime; it would have been more convenient for me, if it could have finished a bit earlier, but that is literally the only thing I can think of and that is just due to my personal circumstances. I can’t think of anything, I found the whole programme encouraging, supportive and informative within a very empowering, caring and trusting environment”.
“I absolutely loved it and the facilitator and the other women in the group. It has been a very worthwhile and educational experience and I would highly recommend this to anyone”.
“It helped identify a lot of things that have happened to me and actually realising the tactics of the abuser and making sense of so many things. Also sharing experiences with the group has been very empowering. To know that you are not alone, this course should definitely be offered to anyone that has been subjected to domestic abuse. The course is priceless, but Sharon made it what it is and encouraged us all to open up and really talk about anything”
“I have lived in the UK for 20 years and Sharon is by far the most amazing person I haver ever met in this country. She genuinely cares and she is so supportive and helpful and intuitive of the various different needs of each individual. She always makes sure everyone is as involved as they like, as it differs how involved each individual wishes to be. I am eternally grateful that Sharon reached out to me after a session, because she wanted to check in on me and she acted immediately to a legal problem I had and helped me get the right help and support that I needed, and this could result in positive life changing circumstances for me and my baby. There are no words that can describe my gratitude to her. What I also really loved, was that we often touched upon very upsetting, scary and heavy topics, but somehow her genuine nature and caring personality made it light-hearted and we could also have a laugh, despite the heavy topics we discussed and that all comes down to her realness and genuine desire to help all of us, she is encouraging and motivating and calming when you need her to be. I am so sad that I won’t get to see her every week going forward, she has become a very important part of my journey and I definitely intend to stay in touch – Thank you for everything”
“Has shown me the signs to look our for when I am ready for a new partner”.
“It as made me aware and really reinforced my awareness of the behaviours of my ex and how it isn’t normal. It is unhealthy and toxic and it isn’t love in any form”.
“Helpful – an opportunity to discuss, listen, learn and not feel alone or shame”.
“Although I didn’t open up as much as I liked I couldn’t wait for the next session to come and it made so much easier discussing domestic violence with people who have been through that and not judging you. I was thinking that my ex-partner mental health was the main drive for his behaviour but now I see that its not just that and before everything escalated and he became violent and controlling there were little things that were actually warning signs. However, I did miss them, just because that was accepted as a normal male behaviour especially when there was no physical abuse and obvious signs of control”.
“It helped me a lot to build self-confidence, after knowing I am not the only one”.
“It finally gave me the ‘freedom’ which I was looking for. I have tried counselling (with a counsellor and a psychiatrist), hypnotherapy, reading books and despite all those sessions, and while they helped, I needed something extra to give me the push to achieve freedom from my ex. The FP most certainly did that and more”.
“It teaches you to recognise the red flags and so we are more aware of the types of abuse. I now will never put up with this behaviour ever again”.
“It got me to go to a refuge”.
“It has given me more confidence and awareness to spot the signs and now to see them for what they are rather that what they are designed to be”.
“Made me feel slightly less alone and isolated”.
“I felt the sessions went very well, there was a feeling of inclusion. I learnt a lot. I realised a lot. Thank you very much”.
“I found Sharon to be amazing, very supportive and understanding. Especially when she is able to give examples from her own past. She is easy to relate to and talk to. She offers advice not just around the sessions but on things we have going on e.g. court etc and tells us where we can get help and she really brings the group together well so even though it is online, we feel included”.
“I really got a lot from the programme”.
“Sharon was lovely, very supportive and interesting to listen to”.
“I think this course is good at showing abusive traits and showing the healthy traits of a person too. It would be helpful to know how to work through awareness and onto the next stage of recovery – e.g. things that still keep you with the abuser such as co-dependency, learning how to be more assertive or suggested links to therapists/coaches that specialise in complex post traumatic stress from repetitive psychological abuse etc”.
“I would like to attend another programme to make up for the sessions I missed”.
“Sharon was excellent, highly experienced and knowledgeable about the subject”.
“Maybe have a little more about modern technology/online dating etc. How the perpetrator can use technology as a vehicle in the abuse. Also, perhaps a session from a police officer within the programme to do a speech (even if it is a recorded video) to support ladies reporting domestic abuse. That is the one thing I regret not doing. I was too afraid to report him”.
“It was brilliant being able to do this online. If I had had to travel I would not have been able to attend”.
“Being online the FP will be more accessible to ladies who require it and no need to book a babysitter either!”.
“I really enjoyed and looked forward to every session. It was also lovely to meet other women who are going through a similar situation to myself”.
“Maybe cover parenting issues and how to deal with legal and caring issues with children and abusive fathers”.
“It would be a great idea to give the option of continuing with a survival support group as it is a long road which can not be resolved or healed in 11 weeks”.
“I think the most helpful aspect is identifying the techniques of the dominator and connecting with other women who have had a similar experience. I think it is invaluable. However, maybe techniques with how to deal with the dominator in a non-confrontational manner for those still with them”.
“Before the programme, I thought the conduct that was directed towards me was unique to me and because of something I had done or because of something in me. In this, the programme has reduced the isolation and shame that went with the misconception”.
“Deconstructing the mechanics and beliefs of both parties has also been quite a powerful tool to start to move out of the ‘victim’ identity and reduce vulnerability to further abuse going forward”.
“Sharing, listening and supporting other women with similar experiences has been very positive and helped reduce and refocus the isolating effects of the abuse”.
“Gaining knowledge is important, as well as the supportive environment of the group to be able to discuss personal experiences and learn coping skills and important legal information”.
“Specifically, outlining each unhealthy trait of an abuser”.
“Understanding that there are some horrible nasty men out there and where there troubles can come from. It’s interesting with the video’s showing the domestic violence man to a different man that is kind and caring”.
“Very helpful because I see other women in the same situation as me. Going through the same or similar things”.
“It is a way to open your eyes, to see many things about toxic relationships and the impact of this on your life”.
“It contributed significantly to increasing my self confidence and self worth”.
“Better understanding of abuse and recognition of behaviours. Connection and validation with other survivors”.
“As a support system, connection and support. Empathy and understanding. I made friends. I learned about abusive behaviours and I felt educated and empowered”.
“I found it very helpful to connect with other women who share their own unique but startingly similar differences”.
“To see different perspectives, issues and concerns, all facilitated and answered by Sharon”.
“I realise (unfortunately) that abusive men have very similar characteristics/behaviours/traits/patterns, that seemed to be common in the group. Although this is unsettling, they seem to be a certain type. It, therefore, makes them easier to spot”.
“More confidence and self-esteem, less isolated, less fear, less shame”.
“Realising that I was by no means alone. That other women were experiencing the same manipulation and that I really wasn’t insane!”.
“I feel more confident, more sure on that is what I do not want again in my life”.
“Made me more confidant that I was telling the truth. That it really did happen, that it is not going to stop if I go back”.
“Learning what other women have gone through and how it has affected them. My domestic violence hasn’t been as severe as others. But it happened and I have moved on from this”.“Understanding unhealthy male traits and how women are also allowing these traits to be normalised”.
“Able to spot and respond to unhealthy behaviours in intimate relationships”.
“Strengthened my resolve that leaving was the right thing. It made me feel less isolated and less alone in my experience and it helped me identify some of the techniques that had been used on me”.
“Invaluable to connect with other women and how quicky we bonded and supported one another”.
“Sharon is like a fairy godmother and guardian angel rolled into one beautiful package!”
“I’m so glad I was introduced to this programme and accepted to join.I feel it has really helped me. The way Sharon supported us all and the other ladies supported each other was incredibly heart-warming”.
“An extremely positive experience which I hope more women in need will be able to participate in and benefit from. Very grateful for Sharon and everyone’s support”.
“I cannot recommend Sharon highly enough. She has been a skilled and sensitive facilitator with a depth and breadth of personal and professional experience that she has shared and directed to the benefit of every woman in the group. She has been sensitive to the different situations, experiences of abuse and values of the different women in the group and has offered several, including myself, additional support in a voluntary capacity over particularly difficult situation”.
“Sharon has sensitivity and appropriately challenged, in a structured and supportive way some of the misconceptions and perspectives that unintentionally create the opportunity for abuse or make its effects worse”.
“Sharon has skilfully managed triggering material during group sessions and made sure every woman felt safe, supported and included during each session”.
“Sharon has been empowering, facilitated new connections and supportive friendships and that kept things pointing towards the positive throughout the programme”.